A/N: Right, first things first, this is an adopted fic, The 18 chapter story I'm continuing on from can be found linked at the bottom of my profile page. I do actually have Pheonixwind's permission to continue this story, and I hope I can continue it adequately and keep the quality consistent, that being said, on with the story.
Word had spread fast through Mariejois, an unprecedented meeting was set to take place, a meeting of the strongest forces the marines have to offer, Several high-rank marine officers including Fleet Admiral Sengoku are set to appear, the Shichibukai are also intended to appear, but with the nature of these sanctioned pirates, no-one is sure how many will present themselves, if any at all. Although the question on everyone's lips is not who will be present for the meeting, but what event on the four seas and the Grand Line could possibly prompt such a meeting?
"Red-Hair and Whitebeard?" the gravelly voice of one of five elderly men seated together rung out through the meeting chamber,
"Yes, Red Hair was the one to establish contact," the young officer knelt on the floor delivering his report, by the manner in which he spoke, one could easily sense the reverence he felt for the five men he was addressing,
"That is disturbing news, but I'm going to assume that he did not meet Whitebeard himself?" this elderly scarred man, despite his frail appearance was certainly someone to be respected.
"No, he sent one of his crew." The officer replied respectfully, "Elder, I'm concerned, these two working together for any reason could present a real problem for the Marines."
"True, but we must wait for now, they have yet to actually do anything, and Red-Hair isn't the type to act unless he's provoked." The supposed lead member of the Gorosei, a man who strongly resembled a Monk, spoke with an authority befitting his station, "Regardless. For now we have more pressing issues, notably the gap in the ranks of the Shichibukai and the pursuit of the pirate responsible for this gap, do we have any indication as to how many of the current Shichibukai will be attending this meeting?"
"None as of yet Sir, they are pirates after all, punctuality is not perhaps their greatest known trait," the young officer spoke up again,
"Dammit Crocodile," the scarred elder growled, "he's to blame, but we can't let the pirates responsible for his defeat get away with it either."
"What do we know of this 'Straw-Hat' crew?" the monk –like elder asked, this elicited a gulp from the young officer in centre of the room,
"We… we have some, new, um… information on a few members of his crew besides Roronoa Zoro, but the validity of the information is questionable and we will need to look into it more,"
"What is this information?!" the elder was quickly growing impatient with the soldier's ability to dance around the issue.
"He seems to have elemental benders on his side"
The officer burst out the sentence in one breath. But regardless, the words spoken left the Gorosei stunned, after a few moments of silence the apparent youngest (in that he was neither bald nor did he have grey hair) member of the Gorosei spoke.
"What evidence do we have?" He inquired quietly.
"Eyewitness accounts saw two young girls fighting with a high-up member of Baroque works, one of them was clearly bending the rocks and sand around her to use as a weapon, and the other, who was slightly older, appeared to be utilizing water from a flask."
"Is it possible that they were merely devil fruit users?" said the monk-like elder.
"It is a possibility, we need more information to work on, however in my humble opinion I believe we can rule that possibility out, the powers they demonstrated could only be tied to two devil fruits in particular, the Hie-Hie no Mi for the older girl, and the Gura-Gura no Mi for the younger, as we all know, those two fruits are already taken." The officer's reply was nervous, but logically sound.
Never in all of their combined years had the Gorosei encountered a threat with this much potential, the potential to ruin the World Government, both physically and morally. "This matter requires looking into" the voice of the scarred elder echoed through their chamber, "Let it be known, Straw-Hat Luffy and his crew are now priority targets, and if these two are confirmed to be benders than they must be eliminated, immediately."
-North-East Coastline of Jaya-
"Awesome! It can fly?" the rest of the crew couldn't help but draw blanks at Luffy's reaction to their newly flight-ready ship, which now had thin white wooden wings and dorsal fins attached to its sides. Another noticeable change was the Ram figurehead. This, through various attachments, now resembled a chicken's head.
"Yeah! Masira and Shoujou made the adjustments while you were taking care of Bellamy" Usopp said, gesturing to the two leading monkeys.
"Something about this makes me feel uneasy." said Nami.
Zoro nodded his head in assent, "For once I agree with you Nami, it should have been a pigeon or a seagull. Chickens don't even know how to fly,"
"That wasn't really the point I was trying to make…" Nami deadpanned.
"Well, I like it! Mostly because it's based on one of the only birds I can usually see." Toph said, grinning.
"Fair enough." Zoro replied with a smirk.
"What are you kids waiting for?!" Cricket's shout pierced through the chatter. "Get on board, or you're going to miss your chance to get to Sky Island!"
"Thanks for everything, old man!" Luffy replies gleefully, before jumping up onto the portside bow of the ship, promptly followed by everyone else, "Set sail! To the knock-up stream!"
And so, the going merry set off, flanked by the ships of Masira and Shoujou,
"Remember kid!" Cricket yelled from the coastline, "No-one has ever disproved the existence of Sky Island!"
Luffy's only response was to grin, then chuckle in confirmation.
-North-west coastline of Jaya-
A large raft with three black sails ran parallel to the coast of the island of Jaya, on board were four men.
"Burgess! Do you see anything?" one of the men called out.
"Absolutely squat", are we even sure the kid is heading out this way?" another man who resembled a Luchador replied,
"According to folks in town, that'd be a yes, just keep a solid eye out, "The first man responded "they'll be pretty tough to follow if they get up to Sky Island, so we've got to get them soon. It's still hard to imagine a goofy kid like that could be worth 100 million Beris."
-On board the Going Merry-
"Are you okay Toph?" a worried voice broke the monotonous sound of the waves hitting below.
"Hmm?" The earth-bender, located near the stern and leaning over the edge of the ship, pulled herself up to respond.
"It's just that you were shaking a bit, and you look a little pale," Zuko added gently.
"Pale? I don't think I have context for that one Sparky." Toph joked.
"Oh, I… Sorry." Zuko replied timidly.
"Just kidding with you Zuko, and don't worry, I'm fine, just a little sea-sickness. Chopper's preparing another set of patch medicine right now." Toph replied with a half-hearted grin on her face.
"Fair enough, are you gonna be okay when we blast off into the sky though?"
"I'll be fine, Zuko. " Toph pouted, starting to get annoyed with Zuko treating her like she was fragile.
"Hey, I don't mean to act like you can't cope, but if you're having trouble, me and Katara are around, just don't forget, we're friends, and friends help each other." Zuko spoke his mind, he didn't want to offend Toph, but he felt he needed to make his point,
"I'll keep it in mind Sparky." Toph replied.
"Hey guys," Nami's voice broke into the conversation, "Masira's crew are scanning for where the Knock-up stream will strike, you might want to get to the front of the ship to be prepared."
With that, the two benders followed Nami to the bow of the ship, once there Zuko was met with the sight of Masira's diving crewmembers surfacing, each with different reports.
"There's a large current at twelve o'clock!"
"There's a large creature at eight o'clock, it might be a sea king!"
"There's wave activity at ten o'clock, moving against the current, it seems to be the formation of a whirlpool!"
Upon the third report, Masira spoke up,
"That's what we're looking for boys! Straw-Hats! Shoujou! adjust your heading to ten o'clock!"
At this point Chopper came up to Toph and handed her some more sea-sickness patches.
"Thanks Chopper, don't know what I'd do without you," said Toph gratefully,
Chopper however was now distracted by events in front of them,
"I'm glad I got those to you." He stated, eyes widened with fear "because it looks like you're going to need them"
As the three crews followed through with Masira's orders they promptly found themselves in the centre of the ocean from hell, the ships turning into makeshift rollercoasters upon massive waves.
Katara stood at the centre of the bow of the ship attempting to bend the waves to make their ride easier and safer, although she was quickly tiring out due to the massive volumes of water which she was manipulating,
"Any idea how much longer this will take Nami?" the water-bender gasped out.
"Sorry Katara, I have no idea," the girl in question responded sympathetically. "Just try to keep that up as long as you can, it makes it much easier to stay on course"
"Navigator, what does the Log pose say?" Robin inquired.
After looking down at the device on her arm, Nami replied with excitement clear in her voice, "It says Sky Island is directly above us!"
It was at this point that the Merry crested over a wave which had been obscuring the crew's view, before them was a massive whirlpool, around sixty yards in diameter,
"You're going to need to get along the perimeter, then ride the whirlpool all the way to the centre" Masira's voice broke out over the sound of rushing water to deliver the straw hat's next instructions.
"Well… doesn't that sound like an interesting way to commit suicide…?" Zuko replied dryly.
"Luffy, not going to question your captaincy or anything, but can we please turn around?!" Usopp yelled, tears of fear forming in his eyes.
"I agree, this just sounds way too dangerous!" Katara added in, she wasn't panicking quite as much as Usopp or Nami, who was now hunkered down on one corner of the deck screeching, but she understood the nature of water, and she knew that whirlpools were not something to be messed with.
"Sorry guys, it's too late to turn back now. Look." Zoro vaguely gestured towards Luffy who was running around in circles, grinning with stars in his eyes, "Nothing can stop him when he gets like this."
"You know, I am beginning to think that Bounty-hunting on Jaya wasn't all that bad…" Zuko replied, unsure of what to make of his new captain's borderline suicidal lust for adventure.
It was at that point that the sea king the divers had mentioned earlier burst out from beneath the whirlpool, about fifteen yards ahead of the Going Merry, prompting terrified reactions from Nami, Usopp, and Chopper. Zuko, Katara and Sanji watched in fascinated horror but didn't let it take them over. Zoro, Luffy and Toph, who couldn't even see the beast in question, barely reacted at all.
"Ok, this is where we leave you, just keep riding the whirlpool and you'll be fine," Masira gave his last instructions before ordering both monkey crews to depart.
"Thanks guys! We'll bring back a souvenir from Sky Island!" Luffy yelled at the departing ships. Only just being heard over Chopper, Nami and Usopp's yells to come back and rescue them.
"Luffy, please turn back, don't you understand that all this Sky Island stuff is just make-believe?!" Usopp pleaded, sounding absolutely terrified,
"Make believe? Is that what you really think?" Luffy turned to face the sniper, sounding somewhat annoyed,
"Usopp might be right Luffy! There's no way we can survive this!" Nami corroborated Usopp's viewpoint,
"C'mon guys, stop worrying, just think, this might be our greatest adventure!" Luffy replied, the stars materializing in his eyes again.
"Is it just me, or are we picking up speed?" Toph noted, having noticed a change in the frequency of the ships vibrations.
"You guys might want to listen to Toph, and take a look out there." Said Zoro, while pointing towards the centre of the whirlpool. "We're being sucked in!"
"Don't worry Nami-swan! I'll protect you!" Sanji moved to protect Nami before promptly hitting the deck, as the Ship hit the centre of the whirlpool, with no water underneath it the ship started to plummet, before suddenly stopping, to the confusion of the crew,
"What just happened?" it was Katara who asked the question,
"No idea, one second, crazy vibrations, the next, practically none," Toph responded, once again leaning over the side of the ship to throw up,
Usopp quickly scanned the ocean around the ship. "Huh? Wha… I don't get it… where'd it go?"
Moving over to see what the long-nosed sniper was talking about Zuko looked out too. To find no signs whatsoever of the whirlpool they were just riding,
"Wait a second… the ship's vibrating like crazy again, there's something coming from below!" Toph exclaimed fearfully.
"I get it… the whirlpool sunk under the surface!" Nami replied nervously.
"HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!" a loud voice from afar broke the nervous atmosphere on board the Merry,
"Huh? Hey Zoro, look." said Luffy curiously, his second mate complied, to see a large raft with three black sails approaching, one of the sails was adorned with a jolly roger which three skulls instead of one and four bones instead of two.
"So, If it isn't Straw-Hat Luffy!" the same voice rang out again, it belonged to a robust tanned man, wearing an open white shirt and olive trousers, he had black matted hair underneath a bandana, a thin black beard and he appeared to be missing at least half of his teeth,
"What? It's that guy from Mock Town!" Nami recalled in surprise, remembering the man who gave Luffy a speech about following his dreams after their first encounter with Bellamy in Mock Town.
"Don't panic too much kid; I'm just here to collect your 100 million beri bounty!" The bearded man yelled laughing.
"Hundred-million? What are you talking about?!" Luffy yelled back.
"Don't play dumb, it says it right here!" The beard man replied, holding up two sheets of paper. "Monkey D. Luffy, 100 million beris and Pirate Hunter Roronoa Zoro, 60 million beris!"
"It's true!" Usopp confirmed, looking at the posters through binoculars. "Congrats on your new bounties, you two!"
"Wait a second, Usopp, you sure there isn't another one for me?" Sanji asked
"Um… No there isn't." Usopp replied.
"How about you look closer?" Sanji asked sinisterly.
"Alabasta must have really racked up your bounties, but… 100 million? That's crazy!" Nami began pondering every possible reason they could have for installing such a huge bounty.
"Hear that! My bounty went up, Big-time!" Luffy cheered.
"60 million's not too bad either haha!" Zoro agreed, looking proud.
"If I leave this place without racking up at least a 100 million beri bounty then I'll consider that a missed opportunity," Toph added.
"What is it with you and getting bounties?" Katara asked, annoyed.
"What is it with you and not getting bounties?" Toph replied with a smirk, causing Zuko and Robin to laugh, and Katara to emit a sound one might hear if they were to punch an ostrich in the throat.
"Guys! It's starting!" Another voice broke through the playful chatter, it was Shoujou, and surprisingly he and his ship were still within hearing range.
The water around the Merry was rising rapidly, with the Merry at the dead centre,
"Everyone grab on to something or get inside!" the crew scrambled, thinking quickly Luffy grabbed Toph before anchoring himself to the mast.
"Thanks Stretch," Toph said gratefully,
"No problem Rocky" Luffy replied, grinning.
"What? You use nicknames, why can't I?"
It happened instantaneously, the massive swell of water seemingly exploded, before a massive pillar of very fast moving water rose up from the centre,
The pillar sent the Going Merry flying upwards along it, and smashed the bearded man's raft to pieces.
While the rest of the Merry crew were screaming as they were blasted into the sky, Luffy was cheering.
"YEAH! To Sky Island!"
A/N: So… yeah. There we go. Search for The Avatar continues!